FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey today signed into law HB 2477, legislation that will meaningfully reform current civil asset forfeiture practices. Under current law, law enforcement in Arizona can seize property based on a mere suspicion that it is involved with criminal activity and the seizing agency may retain any proceeds from the sale of the seized property. This forfeiture process lacked transparency, accountability, and violated Arizonans’ due process rights.
With the enactment of HB 2477, police and prosecutors will be required to report publicly what property they have seized. They will also have to go through an approval process before making any purchases with the proceeds of seized property. In addition, the forfeiture reforms in HB 2477 will also make it easier for Arizonans’ to challenge the seizure of their property, force the government to make a solid case if a seizure is contested, and eliminates loopholes that currently allow local law enforcement agencies to circumvent state law related to forfeiture.
Will Gaona, policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, had this reaction to Gov. Ducey signing HB 2477 into law:
“This is a significant victory, for Arizona to be joining the growing roster of states that have reformed their forfeiture laws. This bill addresses a number of significant problems with the current civil asset forfeiture scheme and moves Arizona in the right direction on property rights.
“This bill ensures that Arizonans will know more about what property police and prosecutors are seizing, and how forfeiture funds are spent. It also protects the due process rights of Arizonans by raising the burden of proof in forfeiture cases and making critical changes regarding attorney fees that will help ensure Arizonans have access to counsel and courts in forfeiture proceedings.
“The commonsense, incremental reforms contained in HB 2477 strike a better balance between Arizonans' rights and the needs of law enforcement. The ACLU of Arizona is proud to be involved in fighting for Arizonans’ due process rights and accountability for our law enforcement agencies.”